Have you ever seen a movie set? It is never the way it appears onscreen. Everything seems smaller and more fake. That beautiful, three-story building you see on the screen may just be a painted faÃ§ade, propped up by pieces of wood. It is never as impressive as it appears.
That is how the church of Sardis was, which Jesus addressed in Revelation 2. Things looked good on the outside, but the fire was gone. Something was missing.
The church of Sardis had a name that was known far and wide. It was humming with activity. There was no shortage of money, talent, or manpower. Outwardly, it had every indication of a church on the move. But Jesus revealed things that no one else saw.
The way we evaluate successful churches is different than the way God evaluates them. Many people measure a church's success by how many people attend, how big and beautiful the facilities are, and how great the music is.
But Jesus sees things differently. And the problem with the church of Sardis was a failure to measure up to His standard. He told them, "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God" (Revelation 3:1–2). Another translation of the word "perfect" would be "fulfilled." Jesus was telling them, "You have not fulfilled your purpose."
Is the objective of a church just to get big? I don't think so. As far as I can see in my study of Scripture, the church has a threefold objective: It is here for the exaltation of God, for the edification of saints, and for the evangelization of the world.